Secretary Clinton: The past must be confronted

Obama officials direct yet another nation to Look Backward in order to Look Forward

Topics: Torture, Washington, D.C.,

(updated below)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Cambodia yesterday and urged its government to proceed with more prosecutions of surviving Khmer Rouge officials.  This is how The New York Times described her visit:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited a former Khmer Rouge torture house in Cambodia on Monday and urged the nation to proceed with trials of the former regime’s surviving leaders in order to “confront its past.”

The commandant of that prison, Kaing Guek Eav, was sentenced to 19 years in prison last July in the first part of a United Nations-backed trial of leading figures of the Khmer Rouge regime, which was responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people between 1975 and 1979.

A second trial involving the four most senior surviving leaders has been expected to follow, after they were formally indicted in September. But Prime Minister Hun Sen, who once said that Cambodia should “dig a hole and bury the past,” has said that he would not allow any additional prosecutions beyond those four.

Mrs. Clinton repeated an argument that has been used by proponents of the trials, saying that “a country that is able to confront its past is a country that can overcome it.”

“Countries that are held prisoner to their past can never break those chains and build the kind of future that their children deserve,” she said. “Although I am well aware the work of the tribunal is painful, it is necessary to ensure a lasting peace.”

Obviously, few regimes can compete with the Khmer Rouge in terms of the breadth and depth of its crimes, but I trust that everyone sees how irrelevant that is to the point.  Previously, Secretary Clinton instructed Kenya to proceed with war crimes trials of its former officials, while President Obama demanded that Indonesia continue investigating past human rights abuses on the ground that “we can’t go forward without looking backwards.”  In other news yesterday:  George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at the World Series baseball game while the Texas crowd cheered and chanted: “USA. USA.”

* * * * *

I’ll be in Madison, Wisconsin later today, where I’m speaking tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m., and will be at Sen. Feingold’s campaign headquarters tonight, where I will try to post Twitter updates.  I’ll also be on Al Jazeera at 9:30 and 10:30 pm EST talking about the election.

You Might Also Like

 

UPDATE:  Following up on yesterday’s post regarding the evidence-free claims from anonymous goverment officials baselessly blaming Anwar Awlaki for the mailed bomb plot:  Andrew Sullivan today, referencing our recent debate over Obama’s efforts to assassinate Awlaki, favorably quotes John Burns, who wrote on Sunday:  ”Increasingly, Mr. Awlaki is being depicted by Western intelligence officials as a threat on the scale of Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.”  Right:  because if there’s one thing that’s reliable, it’s anonymous claims about Terrorist threats laundered through The New York Times.  Actual Yemen expert Gregory Johnsen today details how ludicrous are these breathless government and media assertions about Awlaki’s role in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

As for Andrew’s citation of a news story today claiming that a man who knifed a member of the British Parliament was “inspired” by Awlaki’s sermons:  is that supposed be a justification for killing Awlaki?  The Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment bars imposing punishment or other liability on someone for the actions of others “inspired” by their speech (that ruling was the result of efforts by the State of Mississippi to impose liability on local NAACP leaders in the 1960s on the ground that their incendiary pro-boycott rhetoric “inspired” various individual NAACP members to engage in violence to enforce the boycott).  But if merely “inspiring” violence with incendiary rhetoric is the basis for labeling an American citizen a Terrorist and then killing them, we need not look all the way to Yemen for that.  We can find that right here at home.

Glenn Greenwald
Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>